|Nelson Island // Photo by Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Company|
Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago are gifted with a variety of experiences to make the most of their visit to the dual-island nation, including cultural events, eclectic cuisine and picturesque beaches.
Here are the top five "Down de Islands" recommendations that clients heading to Trinidad and Tobago may want to consider, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Company.
Whether renting a vacation house on one of the islands or simply taking a day trip, a beach lime is a popular activity complete with ice-cold Carib beer and Angostura rum punch flowing, coupled by a pig roast with fresh spiny lobster on the grill. Many of the islands offer house rentals, which can sleep up to eight or 10 people with event space accommodating up to 40 people, making for a great group vacation or event. With the mountainous view of Trinidad’s Northern range and Caribbean waters surrounding, guests also can arrange for a sunset sail for a small or large group to wind down from the eventful day.
A 15-minute boat ride from Chaguaramas, the Gasparee Caves lie below the ground on the island of Gaspar Grande, which is essentially a large coral that has been pushed up out of the ocean. At roughly 90 feet deep, the caves were once used by pirates and smugglers to secure stolen treasures and are home to a variety of creatures, including harmless bats. The caves feature formations of stalactites and stalagmites, which tower over a massive, mysteriously clear pool in the center for explorers to take a dip in. Tours to Gaspar Grande must be booked through an official guide and can be arranged through the Chaguaramas Development Authority by calling 868-225-4232 or e-mailing [email protected].
The Chaguaramas waters of Trinidad are one of the top locations for tarpon fishing, attracting tarpon novice and veteran anglers for tournaments or those who fish for fun each year. June to November are the prime months for fishing in Trinidad, when the waters offer the perfect conditions for tarpons to thrive. Trinidad’s "Tarpon Thunder Tournament" takes place each August. This year, the tournament takes place on Friday, August 12.
A former leper colony, Chacachacare Island attracts both locals and visitors seeking a paranormal experience. Legend has it that the head nun hanged herself in the chapel in the mid-1900’s and witnesses have reported seeing the nun walking around with a lantern at night in addition to hearing voices, being pushed and feeling cold spots. Prior to housing the leper colony, the island served as a cotton plantation and a whaling station. In 1896, the highest lighthouse in the world was built on the island. It has since been downgraded to the second-highest and is still maintained by a lighthouse keeper to this day. With its storied past, the island was previously featured on "Ghost Hunters International."
Nelson Island is the largest of the "Five Islands," which were all previously quarantine islands, and is dominated by the Quarantine Station built in 1802. It was the largest quarantine station for indentured immigrants to Trinidad and Tobago in the 19th and 20th twentieth centuries and is often compared to Ellis Island in the United States due to their similar purposes. In the 1900’s, the island also served as a detention center for prisoners.
Water Sports and Land Adventure
The waters and islands off the north-western shore of Trinidad offer many water and land activities for adventurers of all ages. Novice kayakers can try their hand at exploring the fairly calm and protected waters of Williams Bay in Chaguaramas and Five Islands, just a little offshore. The more experienced kayaker can paddle to Gaspar, Monos and the Boca Islands. Both Scotland Bay and Chacachacare Island are popular spots for swimming and guided snorkeling tours, which guests will be able to spot feather dusters, sea horses, angle fish, butterfly fish and much more. Stand-up paddle lessons are also available as well as fly boarding, wake boarding and stand-up paddle yoga.
Those seeking a thrilling experience head to Centipede Island, which is only accessible by jumping the boat and swimming to before taking a short but steep and slippery hike to a 40-foot cliff. Adventure-seekers can then repel into the water from the cliff, while others have the option to climb shorter cliffs nearby. After a quick lesson on jumping from the guide, those interested can opt to jump into the sea from some of the shorter cliffs.